4 Down finds the Deek Recordings extended family coming more than correct with their fourth collection of cover versions. Nathan “Bullion” Jenkins leading his talented crew through a set of eccentric, willfully non-linear, electronic pop. Anyone linked into DEEK`s regular Pop Not Slop posts will know how incredibly pop literate these folks are, and be well aware that in terms of selecting “un-classic” musical-misses-that-deserved-to-be-hits are concerned these guys and girls are gonna top you every time. Out of the eleven tracks here – even after a considerable search – four for me go un-ID`d.
Joviale`s Storm is classy, polished. Sweet harmonies set to a rumba of sentient silicone shakers. Camila Fuchs` Inside Out comes crashing, and dark. Illbient Industrial lit by another siren, calling through the tumbling, fractured, dub detail. The result somewhere between Throbbing Gristle and Dollar. Or an angel-fronted Coil or Psychic TV. In fact all of the tracks on 4 Down appear to be fronted by angels. MT Hadley`s falsetto on Easy Way Out had me jot down “Flying Pickets, Only You” in my notes. The exceptions to this being Kreme`s vocoder-ed Missing You – which “rocks” like Steven Hawking meets Moon Safari Air meets ZamZam Sound – and Kiki Kudo & Brian Close`s instrumental take on Elsa`s T’En Va Pas. Turning the theme song to the 1986 film, Die Frau Meines Lebens, into something racing and intricate. Imagine if Iceland`s Mum made techno.
Of the other “knowns”, C.A.R. AKA Chloé Raunet does a sparse and angular, DeVo-Like deconstruction of XTC`s Making Plans For Nigel and Westerman contributes a brilliant re-build of Simon & Garfunkel`s Kathy`s Song. Stately-paced, and rinsing the song`s lovelorn melancholy through cathedral reverb and 80s echoes. System Olympia bravely risk Mazzy Star`s Fade Into You, and achieve the seemingly impossible. The Hope Sandoval original holds such a special place for so many people – myself included – that any reinterpretation is pretty much doomed to disappoint / fail. But Francesca Macri`s almost accapella succeeds in being as haunting as that original. Her vocal set to music that orbits in slow motion like fragments of exploded clockwork. Rattling like the shutters of a deserted home toyed with by the wind. Creating an ambient space almost as strange as This Mortal Coil`s cover of Tim Buckley.
When I interviewed Nathan, years ago now, he talked about his love of the Cocteau Twins, and in particular their Heaven Or Las Vegas LP. Nathan’s collective, Nautic, like the Cocteaus have a secret weapon. Laura Groves being their own Liz Fraser. Her voice spinning everything they do into gold. I`d love to see an album from Nautic and / or Laura. I`d also love for Laura`s sublime cover of Paul McCartney`s Waterfalls (from 2013`s Pun For Cover) to make it to vinyl. On 4 Down the 3-piece transform Fleetwood Mac`s pedal steel—twanged Only Over You into a Guthrie & Co.-esque mini epic. Nathan goes solo to reinterpret the funky wisdom of Bill Wither`s Heartbreak Road. While the album closes with another Nathan, Micay, trading in the manga and rave of this recent Blue Spring LP to team up with Ben Osbourne for a hand-clapping, guitar / mandolin picking electro Alt. country – Lambchop with machines – version of Eleven Pond`s Watching Trees.
You can pre-order 4 Down directly from DEEK Recordings, and while you wait check out its predecessors – Pun For Cover, Extraordinary Renditions, and Covered In Gloria.